Saturday, 27 October 2012

Excellent 1694 insight into the Inquisition

This English description of an auto-da-fe celebrated in Lisbon in 1694 is an excellent piece of reportage. It tells us that the Portuguese aristocrats were intimidated into attending. That there is no evidence that the alleged judaisers knew anything of Judaism. Culturally, they prepared their food and cleaned their homes as they had learnt from their parents. One man - maybe truthfully - said he had been a good Christian, but admitted to judaising to save himself from being burnt alive. A woman specialising in folk remedies was burnt as a witch. 

It is good to name people. The lady accused of sorcery might have been Ana Martins. The Jewish, or Jew-ish, victims seem to have come from the village of Carção (pronounced Karssaow) in the province of Trâs-os-Montes. Very sweetly, the village's coat of arms now contains a mezuzah, menorah and blue tallit stripes.

"The Tribunal of the Inquisition in Lisbon caus’d an Auto da Fé to be put in Execution the 16th of May last. But the Holy-day was not compleat, nor were the People satisfy’d, because there was but one Person put to Death.

There appear’d in Court Seventeen Men and Sixteen Women, accus’d of Judaism, Witchcraft, and other Crimes; the Cognizance of which, belongs to that Tribunal. All the Criminals were brought into the Grand Market-Place by the Officers and Familiars of the Inquisition, with the usual Ceremonies. Scaffolds were also set up for the Inquisitions, the Persons of the Greatest Quality, who dare not fail to make their appearance at the Ceremony, for fear of being look’d upon as Indifferent in Matters of Religion. There were among the Prisoners Twelve accus’d of Judaism, who having acknowledg’d that they had liv’d after the manner of the Jews, they appear’d with a Scapulary of yellow Linnen, called San Benito, which they were condemn’d to wear as long as they liv’d, and to have all their goods confiscated. There was one who obstinately persisting that he had done nothing contrary to the Christian Religion was to have been burnt; but upon reading the Sentence, he confess’d that he had been Judaising; upon which the Punishment of Death was remitted. The Proofs of Judaism are reduc’d to this, That they never eat Swines flesh, not Hares, nor Fish without Scales: that they put on clean Linnen on Saturdays, and that they swept their Houses the contrary way. Among all these, there was but one Woman of Fourscore and ten years, put to Death, and she was burnt for a Witch: she confess’d that she had learnt some Secrets which she made use of for the cure of Diseases, but deny’d that ever she had made any Contract with the Devil, and protested that she dy’d a Good Christian. But as they made her a Witch in despite of her Teeth, so they put her to Death whether she would or no. Suchis the Equity and Piety of this Tribunal, which Paul IV, call’d the only Support of the Authority of the Roman See."

The Present State of Europe, Volume 5. August 1694. Page 265-266

No comments:

Post a Comment